‘No ultimatum by Naxals to release their cadre in exchange for the four soldiers’

As the massive manhunt launched by the Bihar police to locate its four missing personnel in the Lakhisarai encounter entered its third successive day, the State police administration firmly refuted any rumours of a proposed “ultimatum” issued by the Naxals to the Bihar government.

On Tuesday, local television channels and the print media — including a prominent news agency — were buzzing with ‘breaking' reports that a self-proclaimed Naxal spokesperson named Avinash had issued a 36-hour ultimatum to the Bihar government to release eight of their jailed cadre in exchange for the four soldiers, failing which they would do away with the hostages.

Additional Director General (Headquarters) P. K. Thakur told reporters on Wednesday that “the police were made aware of any such ultimatum set by the Naxals only through the media” and that there was “no concrete information of any such ultimatum whatsoever.”

“Let me clarify once and for all, there has been no attempt on their [the Naxals'] part to contact us directly,” said Mr. Thakur, while hinting that the media should behave more responsibly in such situations. “Our first priority is to trace the missing personnel…we are praying for their safe return. Their relatives are in constant touch with us,” he said.

Even as the combing operation was being mounted by the Central Reserve Police Force and the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action units throughout the Munger-Lakhisarai-Jamui belt, anxious relatives of the kidnapped personnel were seen thronging Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's residence at 1, Anne Marg since Tuesday.

“Strategy” meetings

Two “strategy” meetings chaired by the Director-General of Police, Neelmani, have taken place since then.

Mr. Thakur, however, refused to divulge any information on the nature of the operations.

When asked whether the help of neighbouring States was being sought to locate the four missing personnel, Mr. Thakur said that the “help of a neighbouring State like Jharkhand will naturally be taken.”